By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 16, 2009 at 1:12 PM

Although he's now on solo record No. 4, for many people Brendan Benson is still the guy who plays in Grammy-winning band The Raconteurs with Jack White.

But don't let White's shadow eclipse Benson's shining talent. Dive into his latest ATO Records disc, "My Old, Familiar Friend," and you won't struggle to find his adeptness at catchy melodies swathed in ringing guitars.

I can't stop playing "Poised and Ready" over and over.

With it's "Jackie Blue"-style intro, "Eyes on the Horizon" mines the rockier side of '70s hits. Think The Raspberries, Wings and sometimes even The Sweet.

Its follow-up, "Garbage Day," opens with a swirl of strings that would have Tavares executing amazing splits. The spirit of Nick Lowe is circling above on "Feel Like Taking You Home."

The variety of sounds, the sass, the power pop -- Benson has learned his lessons from Costello, Lowe and Tilbrook, too.

Perhaps the fact that he grew up near New Orleans and has lived in Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco helped create his brand of cosmopolitan power pop that is distinctly American.

"I wanted a sweet, clean, effortless American voice," says Iggy Pop about why he asked Benson to sing on a track on a 2007 Stooges record. "Brendan had the voice."

What bigger praise could a rocker want?

Add in the fact that "My Old, Familiar Friend" -- upon which Rolling Stone bestowed a 3.5-star review -- debuted in the top spot on Billboard's Heat Seekers chart when it was released in August and Benson oughta be in a pretty good mood when he comes to town on Wednesday, Nov. 18 to play at Turner Hall Ballroom with Wisconsin's own Cory Chisel.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $10.

Prime yourself by watching the weekly Benson webisodes on spinner.com.

Some other gigs on tap this week include:

The Rave explodes with big shows this week, starting with Megadeth on Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. The Endgame Tour also includes Machine Head, Suicide Silence and Arcanium. Ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland -- meanwhile -- will be in town on Saturday for GuitarFest 2009 at Cascio Interstate Music.

Saosin plays The Rave on Wednesday with Innerpartysystem, Eye Alaska and Rehyn at 6:30 p.m.

Rob Zombie's Hellbilly Deluxe 2 World Tour rolls into the Eagles Club the following night at 8 p.m., bringing Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures and Nekromantix in tow.

And for something completely different, The Rave hosts Medeski, Martin & Wood on Friday at 9. The trio is touring in support of the third installment of "The Radiolarian Series," which kicked off in September 2008 and was followed by "Radiolarians 2" in April. "Radiolarians 3" came out in August.

Skybox plays The Mad Planet on Thursday. The Chicago band is on the road in support of its forthcoming second disc, "Morning After Cuts," recorded with Sean O'Keefe in Chicago and at Smart Studios in Madison. You can hear the first single, "In a Dream," at skyboxmusic.com.

Cross Canadian Ragweed plays at Shank Hall -- which hosts Savoy Brown the night before and Paul Cebar the night after -- on Friday. Drew Olson previews the show for OnMilwaukee.com.

Lastly, but not leastly, Peaches and Amanda Blank team up for a Saturday gig at Turner Hall Ballroom. On this tour Peaches is backed again by German rock band Sweet Machine. Rolling Stone exclaims that Peaches' "bawdy pop feels like a refreshing breath of filthy air." Yowsah!

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.